A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ROSES
Rosario has over 100 years of history on the Ormeau Road. Read below to see how we journeyed from a well-intentioned idea to one of the largest grassroots football clubs on the island of Ireland.
Today we have 1400 members, 250 volunteers and 62 teams. We have sent almost 30 teams on an equivalent number of trips to Europe, the USA and Canada. Our trips to Clubs and tournaments in England and Scotland are innumerable. We organise and host one of the largest annual Mini-Soccer tournaments on the island. We host amazing cross-community and inter-cultural events such as the Ethnic Minority Sport for Northern Ireland Confederation Cup Final and the Belfast City of Sanctuary Picnic. In 2019 we hosted St Mirren’s football club at Ulidia in what was the biggest sporting event in the Club’s history.
1912 – The Foundation was set
Holy Rosary Parish priest, Father Robert Crickard and Minister Campbell from Ballynafeigh Methodist Church, worked together to create sporting opportunities for the young men in their parishes. They did not know it then, but they established the foundations of what would become Rosario YFC and set the standard for good community relations in the Ormeau area – a heritage that Rosario continues to uphold today.
1930's – The Clonard League
Rosario YFC competed in the Clonard League and finished runners-up for the season. Membership grew and the community became more involved as a result.
1950's - Ormeau Recreation
The Second World War had interrupted, but not halted, the growth of the Club. Ormeau Recreation began playing at Ulidia and won the 1953 Junior Cup.
1960's - Youth Teams begin
Organised by local builder, John Jordan, Saturday morning training for boys aged 10 – 18 began and they went on to compete in League games. This is “the defining acorn from which the great oak that is now the current Rosario powerhouse will grow.” We won’t dwell on the results, rather we will celebrate the continued involvement with the Club of many of those eager young men who started with that team.
1970's - The Martin O’Neill Years
New players arrived regularly as the Club’s reputation grew. One such player was a young Martin O’Neill. Nothing could restrain his obvious talent and he went on to a glittering Premier League footballing and managerial career. However, he maintained his links with Rosario and returned frequently to visit the team. We have no doubt he misses us still!
A winning team at last. The years of hard graft and dedication were rewarded in 1970 when Rosario, including that young Martin O’Neill, won the League. The following year Rosario, in what was a monumental achievement for the club and a testament to the hard work and dedication of the young players, won the League and Cup double. The under-18 side also qualified for the Final of an all-Ireland football tournament. Unfortunately, the deteriorating security situation prevented the team from competing on the day. But the Club was now a prize-winning entity at last!
1980's - The Club Grows
The Roses now had teams across several age groups and competed in both the Down and Connor League and the South Belfast Boys League. Despite increasing hostilities during the NI conflict, football proved an effective vehicle to break down tensions and bring children from opposing communities to play together.
1985 - Smithwick Amateur League
Rosario YFC joined the Smithwick Amateur League and fielded a senior team in partnership with South Belfast side Santos. In 1987 the team won the Division 2B title in the League.
1990's - 2000's. - The Golden Years
A roll call of League and Cup wins followed for the senior side, which was made up of mostly players who had progressed through the junior training apparatus at the Club. Meanwhile, membership in the junior football teams had grown massively. The Club began organising trips to England, Scotland and even further afield to the USA and Canada to broaden the outlook and experience of its young members. Expanding membership was helped by the growing number of parent volunteers. In true community spirit, many of these volunteers were, and remain, former members of the Club itself, now stepping back in to guide their own children in the game.
The Growth of Girls Football at Rosario YFC: A girls' team was formed in 1991. While this may have been founded out of a need for a social outlet, commitment to the Club and the game soon became paramount. Some of these groundbreaking young women also undertook the IFA Referees Beginners Course and a coaching pathway was developed. Membership thrived. The enthusiasm and skill of the young people enrolling to join our girls’ teams continued apace. The increased membership resulted in a call for more volunteers and the club now has 33 female volunteers assisting in various capacities. Today, Rosario has 10 girls' teams in our Junior Academy and 1 Senior team, all successfully competing and holding their own in local tournaments.
We’re not finished. Rosario is in the final stages of planning for a new Pavillion building and stand which will make us one of the best-equipped and resourced clubs in Belfast. Our plans are ambitious, but we forge ahead with confidence knowing we have a heritage and community support that is second to none.
The present – onwards and upwards.
A Club with such an immense heritage has never stood still. We are proud of our Rosario community and our wider community in South Belfast. Up the Roses.